Ashley Follow

📍Colorado 📱Snap: AshArdor 💻 Writer. Student. Property Management. Vet. 🇺🇸 📚Follow for stories and stuff. 📖Book Venu out soon

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My eyes were captivated by the points at the end of their ears. They would rise and fall as they spoke. “There has been an emergency. As you know, this time of year is full of miracles, but, if we don’t get this last batch out, there will be many without a happy new year. This can’t happen.”
“Where do we come in?”
“There are three locations where each of these ornaments will be placed. You must place them on the Christmas tree, near the top. And, they must all be placed before the clock strikes midnight. Now, finish your cocoa quickly, you must leave soon to make it.”
“How are we going to get to these places?”
“You’ll be taking the spirit express. It’s a train, sort of. It already knows where you need to go, just make sure to be fully inside it when it's moving.” They pass me a handmade leather messenger bag and hand Grey a list. Upon it were the names of the miracle’s recipients, and the miracle itself. “Oh, one more thing, you must believe in their miracle for its work to the fullest potential.”
We walked for what seemed like twenty minutes, through the slow falling snow, a slight nip at our bare cheeks and a rosy bite at our noses. The carved path was ridden with twisted poles decorated with pine vines sprinkled with lights to guide the way. Only a small breaking of the snow beneath our feet could be heard through the surrounding woods. We came to a clearing with nothing there, “What is this? Was that just a path to nowhere?”
Grey chuckled a bit, shook his head ‘no,’ and motioned for me to follow. He threw his hands into the foot of powdered snow and pulled a red and white swirl pole up from the ground. With its rise, the slight whisper of a song began to play. “Come on, hold on to the pole.” It went up into the clouds. As our heads peaked from beneath the fluffed hills, my vision was overwhelmed with lights strung across every rooftop, garland, and ornaments on every tree. The sweet smell of crackling fires seeped from the chimney tops. “Oh my gosh-” It’s all I could say. No others words seem to capture my feeling in that moment.
“I know huh? This is the North Pole.”
“But, we’re nowhere near the north part of the world? How are we here?”
“Magic. I told you. It’s all over this place. Let’s go in there.”
“Where does that go?”
He laughed, “just inside.” We walked into the door whose house seemed too perfect to be real. Any gingerbread person would be jealous of it standing.
“Hello there! It is good to see you again, and who is this friend?” A small person stepped out from behind a set table, “sit, I just made cocoa.”
Grey’s smile grew from cheek to cheek, “this is Addison.”
“It is nice to meet you, please sit. We have something to discuss. I’m actually really glad you’re not alone.”
There was a little boy, they called him ‘the grey one.’ It wasn’t his mood but his tenderness toward the bleak and ashen garb of the world that brought the name to him. Regularly, he was intoxicated on light and overrun with an unexplainable chipperness, but, from time to time, a wretched downcast would overtake him. It was during these times, he’d be gone. No knew where he went, and to be honest, hardly anyone cared. Again, not because of him but because of the place he lived. No one there cared about anyone very much. Well, during one of these times, I saw him walk into this miserable blizzard of a storm. I remember thinking, ‘he shouldn’t be going alone, he could be harmed.’ I waited to see if anyone joined him in the snow, but after minutes of him being consumed by the raging winds, no one did. So, I did. When you can’t see where you’re going it’s hard to know if you’re going in the right direction. ‘Great, now I am going to die, too.’ But, there was the faintest light growing through the sheet of white, every bit in my body raced toward it, until it had developed into a grand village. Cottages lined the streets, their windows lit up by the sweetest of candlelight. The snow there fell lightly, almost in slow motion. It was like a dream. “Addison? What are you doing here?”
“I followed you to make sure you were okay in the storm- where is this place?”
“A little village I learn to miss a lot all year. It feels like this everywhere here. You know, magic. I tried to bring it back with me, but it doesn’t stick where we’re at. Come,” he waves his hand, “I have something to show you.”
She, Marilyn Rose, was a young woman, not old enough to be recognized as an always responsible adult, but not young enough to make careless mistakes anymore. Mistakes weren’t what usually brought her down. She actually had a knack for working under pressure. Now, when dealing with different matters, ones of emotion and feeling, she was a little less adept. 
One day, this man, Damien Cover, walked into her job. He was gorgeous, at least that is what she thought to herself at the time. He smiled at her and kept taking glances back, even took the time to tell her he’d be moving jobs and wouldn’t be coming by anymore. He left his card with his “personal” number on it, which he stressed to her many times before heading out. It looked like the holidays weren’t going to leave her behind that year and after that summer’s mishap, it was needed. She fumbled with the idea. Maybe, maybe not. What if, what if not? Until days later when she decided to make the call.
With a deep breath, she took the card, hands steadily grew wet, dialed the number and took another nervous breath while waiting for the other side to answer. One. Two. He answered. She had made a deal with herself to hang up if it got to three, but it didn’t. They exchanged hellos and she disclosed her reason for calling, to set a date for drinks in town. December 2. Relief washed over her like a wave crashing against the sand. “Great.” She hung up. Immediately she realized, she should have said goodbye first. Needless to say, their date went well and I get to see them both next week, with my entire family, to witness the renewal of their fifty years. I can’t be more happy for Nan and Pa.
Why do you write? Is it an extension of self or do you feel the need to be heard? With me, it’s a bit of both, like a craving that just doesn't want to let go. If only it didn’t rip me apart every time a word of mine hits paper. If only I didn’t lose a part of myself. 
Though, I can say in that I am utterly grateful for a piece of me has been encapsulated in stone for all to see until time’s end or at least until words are no longer in use. I am from humble beginnings. I grew up in a place where my parents were never together. A place where I knew I was different and not because of the thin trailer park walls, or the new homes, or my privileged friends, but because of something deep inside. It is something that calls to me in every second of every day. I cannot dismiss it nor can I avoid it. It is what has made me. It holds me deep at night. It calls to me in the fog of day and in those moments, when I don’t know which way to go, it offers a guiding voice to help find the way. It is where I found my privilege. Adversary. 
Many times, the hardships of life break a person. You can see them fall apart. I have lost my cool once or twice, when I was young I hit a day when it all changed. A day that couldn’t be forced, but it turned the switch in my mind and everything in my psyche was different. That day made me, even in all its darkness. In its shadow, I began to shine, because you can’t be different if you follow everyone else’s path.
Everyone’s seen it. Everyone knows what it is, but no one has ever been to the end of the road. It’s like a rainbow, you’ll chase it, feeling closer and closer to grabbing it, being able to touch it, but, the further you go, the further it gets. I don’t know what I did that day, I don’t know which way I went. It wasn’t a dead-end or an abrupt stop, but a sign that said ‘this is it. The end of the road.’ I thought it would be more, maybe the equivalent of seeing a unicorn. Not at all. Unless seeing a unicorn leaves you feeling slightly empty and letdown. But, I was here, so why not explore. Again, I don’t know what direction I took, I just began to walk. It was a gentle walk where thoughts aren’t too intrusive and speak no louder than a quiet whisper. I could hear birds singing, soft songs like they do at sunset. There was a breeze that followed their lead. I took a small trail. It wasn’t too worn, greenery still peaking from below the recently fallen leaves. I find a bench, that like me has seen time. It’s been beaten by wild winds, pounded by burley storms, but it still stands. Before it is a vast amount of water, ocean or sea, I do not know. It is grand. Gentle waves caress the sand, as it pulls in and out. I take a seat and watch the dance, thinking to myself, how lucky I’ve been, to live the life I have. The road took longer than I expected to reach the end, which is not bad. In a way the lack of excitement is refreshing, comparing how exciting the road was, and I suppose this view at this very moment, is almost as magical as seeing a unicorn.
Happy 242 Devildogs! 🎂🎉🎁🎊🎈
Semper Fi 🤙🏽
#semperfi #marinecorp #usmc #birthday #devildogs #military #america #242 #pride #love
Ah, November, my dear old friend. So many special memories spent inside your walls. Some grand, you know, lighting the sky like a ball of glittering fire and then there were those, so cold, not even the depths of space hold them, dear. There’s been quite a bit that we have seen together, so why not this? Why not a day so special no other could compare? Why not this day? For many people, it’s the day they fall in love or the day they give birth. Equally great reasons, but not mine. I’m a different type of person, though I love some people, I’ve never felt the sweeping desire to be taken from my solid stance and have not had a child, unless, you consider, my pets. They’re not dogs nor cats, but in the night, they are the sweetest of fruit bats and in the day a few ravens and crows.
I am darker than most, not in skin but in soul. I don’t see the world as lacking. I don’t view the good as bad, but, instead, I see the bad as good, as well. I heard a voice, today, sing from the trees that frame a privacy barrier around my home. It is only strange because, no one lives near me, not even a bit close. Of course, curiosity steals my attention. I walk out like anyone would. The singing was sweet and soft like a treat beckoning for me. He sounded like the world, in all its wonder, calling out for me, of all people, me. I’m tripping over logs, hearing branches break under my feet before I come to a clearing. The singing stops. I look around curiously, not a nervous bone shaking. Then, a branch breaks to my right. Startled, I jump, but travel toward it. When I reach the spot, I believe to be it, I only see a book. Its wrapped in leather, the parchment is faded, and a bit worn, but inside is the greatest story I’ve ever read.
I’ve grown up in a place, that has made me who I am, but who I am is someone that others don’t quite understand. You see a vacation for me is going to a city. One that chokes the lungs and dirties the skin with pollution. I’ve never seen so many people than those out on the streets of any city I’ve been. To me, though, they all look the same. Tall buildings, loud people, and smog-producing vehicles. Its wild, more than the forests. I’ve been called feral, since I live out in the trees, eating greens and killing boar, yet, we do not act like our heads have been removed. We don’t shove through each other, hoping to get to wherever it is a second quicker. We share everything because everyone does their part for our community, our society. 
I have always been enthralled by the people of the city. They go so fast, for reason unbeknown to me, yet, when they vacation, it’s to be like me. To swing among the trees, walk our paths, to come back to where they know they belong, but are too afraid to leave behind all that lives in the city. I, honestly, do not believe we are very different, nor do I believe anyone has a better life. We are human, we experience and life, no matter the differences, is beautiful. There was a time, where I tried to run from this place, thought I knew better, that I’d find myself somewhere else, but, I have learned, through time, like we all do, that the path to finding oneself, is not in the trees, it’s not in the forest, but  within the self.
I think I saw him today, driving by on my way to post office. In these small towns, no one has a mailbox near their home. The only thing is, he doesn’t live ‘round here no more. He has no reason to come back this way. It easier to move on and forget about his existence, when he doesn’t try to peak in at my life. I’m sure he still thinks that I am, or that he’s still under my spell, but I am not a witch. I have no power at all in controlling others. That didn’t stop him. I wondered if it were, the drugs the doctors had prescribed, that made him think I was doing things? 
He accused me of pricking his skin hundreds of miles away. I was said to have caused accidents to happen all around him as warnings, I suppose. I, honestly, believe it was my lack of obsession with him that drew his revenge. If he couldn’t have me, then no one would. It was last Halloween. I don’t know why he chose this day, maybe believed my soul would die, cease to exist since there would be no place for it to go with the living and the dead walking the earth. Well, I survived. For the last year, I have jumped at every shadow, at every click of the stove and I haven’t slept right since. I fear he may be coming back, to try and light me aflame again. Can I believe that I saw him, or will I only continue torturing myself? Somedays I really wish he did kill me. I wish I would have burned alive and been free of this because the torture of every day is much worse than the feeling of my skin bubbling and my lungs choking on the fumes of my searing self. I should just do it, but, I can’t. I could just make it worse. My thoughts are broken, as the smell of smoke journeys past my nostrils into my lungs. I wasn’t wrong. I wasn’t going crazy. He has come back and this time I know he’ll be successful. Good riddance.
Okay, so this is a retelling of a story I heard a long time ago, of a neighbor we used to know. So, I was about 10. My friends and I would gallivant around town, you know, making a ruckus, like children do. It wasn’t any day out of the ordinary. It didn’t feel weird. The sky was blue and not a cloud dared ruin it.  Well, a cute little puppy runs toward us. We, of course, pet it, after all, who can resist the charm of a little puppy with those eyes just beg for attention. Soon after a young man approaches, spilling some story about how he lost this puppy and was overjoyed that we had found it. He wanted to reward us, but we, being children of our overprotective parents, knew better and told him it was fine, “we will be rewarded in time.” He chuckled, tried again, but we gave the same answer and turned away.
A few days later, someone was missing, a child of our age. The parents were distraught. The news was digging for any lead that could help break the case, find the little girl before it was too late, but, it was weeks later a grim tale flashed upon the screen with an old familiar face that made me scream. It was the man from the park. The one with the puppy. I didn’t know how lucky I was until that day, my friends, they felt the same. Be careful out there because though most people won’t do you a thing, there are some, those who fade into the background like everyone else, who will.
Some people think he’s a bit creepy and I can’t say I necessarily disagree with them. He eats bugs, waits for them to die then he digs in, but, even with their guts all over his face, he’s still so cute. I named him Fang Jr. after a dog I used to own, he was the most loyal companion I have ever had. He had a life anyone would wish for, but age takes us all. Fang Jr, well, at least he can live as a long as a cat. I’ll have a few more years, and he kills all those bugs I don’t care for. Fang never really had a taste for them. 
Don’t worry, he doesn’t really get out much. Neither do I. I stopped after I realized how fake people are in your face, how you’d believe you could trust them and they turn around and take you out. Not even in a “cool, it’s all over” kind of way. It’s more like “wow, this is still happening and I’m still here” one.
Today is like any other day. We sit, we talk. Just a tarantula and girl in the shadows of the darkest room inside the home where other used to live. These others, I knew them, well, you could say, but, sometimes people you know become people you knew. People you wish you never did.  Like the times I wish I couldn’t hear their screams like I couldn’t see them frolicking mockingly in the yard and like I could remember the struggle they all put up because if I can’t trust you, what good are you? 
Fang Jr. and I know better now. We won’t make the same mistake again. So, unfortunately, we cannot let you leave. I do hope you understand, you know so much after all, but, don’t worry, it won’t hurt. We’ve become quite good at what we do.